Which column has the most zeros

 A mean person gets paid back in meanness, a gracious person in grace. (Proverbs 14:14) What does your 'paycheck' look like today? Are you seeing lots and lots of zeros behind that 'grace' number, or more of them behind that 'meanness' number? Mean people aren't exactly the kind of people we want to hang around with on a regular basis, are they? In fact, we most likely want to 'put their lights out' on occasion, wishing they'd just back off and find somewhere else to do their dirty work. We don't always respond in grace toward the meanie, do we? In fact, we might just find ourselves wanting to be a little 'mean' in response!

Why do mean people evoke a defensive response from us rather than a gracious response? It could just be that we see a bit of that same 'meanness' within ourselves! We might not always realize that mean streak exists within us, but when it is revealed, it is time to let God deal with it so that a gracious response is elicited in the face of meanness the next time. Jesus told his disciples that God's kingdom was made up of individuals who actually use the grace of God in their lives to learn to turn the other cheek. (Matthew 5:39) This idea of 'turning the other cheek' is a much harder lesson to learn than just 'letting it rip'. Emotional 'control' isn't accomplished as a matter of willpower - it is accomplished as a matter of Spirit-power within.

When we encounter mean people, who attempt to bring us down through mean actions or words, we can lean into the power the Holy Spirit gives each of us. We never control the other person's behavior, but we can be in control of how we respond to it - especially when we have the wherewithal to lean into God's grace and the Spirit's presence within us. I have found that responding with grace is really the result of the Holy Spirit reminding me that I don't always know the 'deeper issue' within that individual that is causing that other person to respond in mean ways. God's grace might help us look beyond the 'mean act' or mean words', but it could also be that his grace revealed through you brings the other person to their knees. 

I think this is why God reminded his people that they are not responsible for vengeance - he is. He will use the grace we respond with to 'undo' the individual who responds out of meanness and emotional hurt. That 'undoing' of the individual is not our job - it is God's. We might not like the way they are acting but rest assured - God takes note of both their action and our response to it. Let your grace-column begin to overrun your 'meanness-column' and you might just begin to see God's movement in that other person's life a little more each time you do. Just sayin!

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